Tom Wilson talks to GPB’s Orlando Montoya about the Oglethorpe Plan

I missed this interview when it aired a couple of days ago, but I’m thrilled to link to it now.

Tom Wilson did some great work as a planner with the Metropolitan Planning Commission and has been workign for the last few years on his new book, The Oglethorpe Plan: Enlightenment Design in Savannah and Beyond, published by the University of Virginia Press.

From the publisher’s website:

In his new book, the professional planner Thomas D. Wilson reconsiders the Oglethorpe Plan, revealing that Oglethorpe was a more dynamic force in urban planning than has generally been supposed. In essence, claims Wilson, the Oglethorpe Plan offers a portrait of the Enlightenment, and embodies all of the major themes of that era, including science, humanism, and secularism. The vibrancy of the ideas behind its conception invites an exploration of the plan’s enduring qualities. In addition to surveying historical context and intellectual origins, this book aims to rescue Oglethorpe’s work from its relegation to the status of a living museum in a revered historic district, and to demonstrate instead how modern-day town planners might employ its principles.

And here’s Orlando’s great interview with Tom, which also quotes urban designer and SCAD dean Christian Sottile:

And from the text of GPB’s Lofty Ideals Are On The Map In Savannah:

When most people walk around downtown Savannah, they see old homes, churches, monuments and trees.

But through Tom Wilson’s eyes, the old historic district looks like a grid of streets and parks in a kind of circuit-board pattern on a map that goes by a specific name.

“Well, in six years as the director of comprehensive planning for Savannah and Chatham County, I repreatedly heard people talking about the Oglethorpe Plan,” Wilson says. “And it seemed that everybody had a different idea of what it was.”

Click here for some of my thoughts about the Oglethorpe Plan’s relevance today.

I have not yet had a chance to read Tom’s book, but I hope to get to it soon.


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